Rolex Gaffes as Li Na Closes In on Grand Slam Title
As China's Li Na marches on to the Australian Open finals, a groundswell of excitement is building up not just in her home turf of the world's most populous nation, but also in the hallowed corridors of the world's most prestigious watchmaker, Rolex SA.
So fevered is the enthusiasm that Rolex appeared to have jumped the gun in calling a championship title for the world No. 4, who is also China's top player. A Rolex advertisement published on the official website of the Australian Open on Wednesday said: 'Rolex congratulates Li Na on winning her first Australian Open and second Grand Slam title.' Tennis pundits, including Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim, quickly tweeted screenshots of the ad, taking a sly dig at Rolex's apparent invention of 'a new line of time machines.'
Another Rolex advertisement also congratulated Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for winning the men's title, inexplicably accompanying the ad with a picture of golfer Tiger Woods. Mr. Tsonga was defeated by former World No. 1 Roger Federer in the tournament's fourth round Tuesday.
Ms. Li won the French Open in 2011 but has yet to claim a Down Under title. The women's championship is scheduled for Saturday, where Ms. Li faces 20-ranked Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
Rolex couldn't immediately be reached for comment. But the Australian Open on Thursday tweeted from its verified account a statement from the Switzerland-based maker of luxury timepieces, saying 'Rolex regrets the publication of an advertisement on the Australian Open website celebrating the victory of Li Na.' But the watchmaker, according to the Australian Open, cheekily added that it hopes 'this will nevertheless bring good luck to Li Na, still in contention.'
Rolex has a close relationship with tennis. It is the title sponsor of some of the circuit's most prestigious stops, including the Shanghai Association of Tennis Professionals Masters, which has been renamed the Shanghai Rolex Masters. It's also the official timekeeper for Wimbledon and other top tennis events. Rolex advertises a series of tennis players on its website, including Mr. Federer--who's also Swiss--Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and, of course, Ms. Li.
If misfortune befalls Ms. Li in the Rod Laver Arena on Saturday, Rolex won't be the only one with egg on its face. A poll on China's leading Twitter-like microblog platform, Sina Weibo, showed an overwhelming majority of respondents expect a Li victory, not least after she swept Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday morning.
Some 98.4% of a poll of about 6,000 bloggers predicted Ms. Li would win the tournament. 'All the stronger players have successively left the tournament,' a blogger wrote. 'Li Na can win this time!' The women's World No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 players have all been knocked out this year in Melbourne Park.
But those in the minority noted that this would be Ms. Li's third entry as an Australian Open finalist and feared a repeat of past outings. 'Maybe it's because of age, which gives people the impression of luck playing a role,' another posted. Ms. Li is 31, while Ms. Cibulkova is 24.
中国选手李娜挺进澳大利亚网球公开赛(Australian Open)决赛之后，不仅在她的祖国中国这个世界上人口最多的国家掀起狂热浪潮，也波及了全球最知名的手表制造商劳力士(Rolex SA)。
劳力士的热情是如此高昂，甚至提前把澳网冠军的称号给予了李娜这位世界排名第四、也是中国最顶尖的选手。澳网官网周三登载的劳力士广告显示：劳力士祝贺李娜摘得其首个澳网桂冠和第二个大满贯(Grand Slam)头衔。《体育画报》(Sports Illustrated)记者沃特海姆(Jon Wertheim)等网坛权威人士迅速将该广告截屏并发出推文，挖苦劳力士显然发明了一组新的时间机器。
劳力士的另一则广告也祝贺法国选手特松加(Jo-Wilfried Tsonga)赢得男子赛冠军，但是莫名其妙地配上了高尔夫选手泰格•伍兹(Tiger Woods)的照片。特松加已经在周二举行的第四轮比赛中败在前世界排名第一的费德勒(Roger Federer)拍下。
李娜曾在2011年摘得法国网球公开赛(French Open)桂冠，但是尚未赢得澳网桂冠。澳网女子决赛将在周六举行，李娜将对阵世界排名第二十位的斯洛伐克选手齐布科娃(Dominika Cibulkova)。
劳力士与网球关联紧密。该品牌是职业男子网球协会(Association of Tennis Professionals)世界巡回赛中几个重要站点的冠名赞助商，其中包括上海ATP网球大师赛，该赛事已被重新命名为上海劳力士大师赛。劳力士产品同时也是温布尔登网球公开赛等重大网球赛事的指定计时器。劳力士的网站上刊登有一系列网球运动员的广告，其中包括同样来自瑞士的选手费德勒(Federer)、阿根廷的德尔波特罗(Juan Martin del Potro)以及李娜。